A small thread on Facebook became the appropriate, if not perfect, place and opportunity to remind you all that The Amarillo Independent survived for six years but never thrived because the conservative business majority wouldn’t support it. Those few who did bless us with advertising recognized that the progressive editorials and opinions were well-walled off from the journalism, which we practiced with unparalleled integrity. Ilook back and realize that the best advice I got and biggest regret I have over lot listening to it was from Claudia Stravato, who told me to run the Indy as a 501(c)3 nonprofit — that the old news business model was dying. She was right.
But that aside, and I know I am harping on this, the Indy’s stories and warnings about Wallace Bajjali were right and had the decision-makers here listened, well … .
The Wallace Bajjali stories weren’t the only investigative pieces that broke ground in this vast journalistic wasteland. We exposed Baptist St. Anthony's Health System’s lack of true charity care. When the Texas Medical Board took action on local physicians, we reported it, including a more in-depth look at why Dr. Roby Mitchell lost his license. We also exposed Amarillo ISD’s unfair treatment of the LGBT community; we exposed the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce for shilling an inferior health insurance plan to its members and, in another story, how the city almost shut down the chamber’s big barbeque event because of food handling problems.
I don’t regret a moment of the six years I worked so hard to practice a craft with passion and to give the community an outlet that truly represented “Real News, Honest Journalism.” And I don’t regret for a minute that I shut it down so my wife and I were no longer shackled to the City Council’s meeting schedule and the (in this case, I am proud to use the word) newspaper’s production timetable. Sometimes I wish I’d been more civil along the way, but in my heart I believe journalism was a higher a calling than the Episcopal priesthood, which I decided to not pursue.
Remember that a free press built and sustain the United States’ form of democracy and freedom and it’s as important locally as it is nationally.